Atlanta Falcons: What position to target in 1st round?


The Atlanta Falcons are still very much in the NFC Playoff mix, but what position should HC Dan Quinn and GM Thomas Dimitroff go after in the 1st round of the 2016 NFL Draft?

The Atlanta Falcons enter Week 13 with a 6-5 record, very much alive in the NFC Wild Card picture. Atlanta sits in 7th place in the NFC, just behind the Seattle Seahawks for the 2nd Wild Card spot. Atlanta has yet to win a division game and that’s why 6-5 Seattle has the slight edge entering Week 13.

While there are still five weeks left of the 2015 NFL regular season, let’s take our first look at what the Atlanta Falcons’ biggest needs are entering the 2016 NFL Draft. What position should the football club target with their likely mid-first round selection?

-= See Also: Devonta Freeman: Difference maker in Week 13? =-

Players’ names will emerge at a later date, but first, where do the Atlanta Falcons need the most help on their football team?’s Lance Zierlein recently updated his draft order/needs post and feels that the Atlanta Falcons need to address safety more than anything. He also believes that Atlanta could go tight end, defensive end, and inside linebacker in the first round.

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While I do expect that the Atlanta Falcons will likely again go wide receiver in the middle rounds, the four positions Zierlein mentions seem the most logical at this cross-section of the season. Atlanta may also look at taking a quarterback in the middle rounds of 2016, possibly trying to find a young passer Matt Ryan could mentor/groom as Matty Ice is now in his early 30’s.

Of the four high priority positions for the Atlanta Falcons, I would prefer to see the Dirty Birds go either safety or inside linebacker than tight end or defensive in the first round. My preference for a player in the back seven of the defense stems from wanting the improving Atlanta defense to slowly, but surely resemble a Legion of Boom defense in Dan Quinn’s 4-3 Under base.

Atlanta looks young and promising at cornerback with Desmond Trufant, Robert Alford, and Jalen Collins. However, how much longer can the Atlanta Falcons trust strong safety William Moore‘s health? Annually he misses games and the secondary is significantly worse without him in it.

Ricardo Allen may end up becoming a strong starter at free safety, but he’s a former corner and likely won’t ever play up in the box like safety/linebacker hybrid. I’d like to think that Atlanta goes after someone they can make their own version of Seahawks safety Kam Chancellor, someone physical enough to coverage tight ends, but quick enough to drop further back into coverage.

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  • Inside linebacker is also interesting, as even though Paul Worrilow has played well in the last three years on the inside in Atlanta, the Falcons could look to upgrade the position. They likely won’t find the next Luke Kuechly picking 16th to 20th, but maybe the next Keith Brooking could ultimately be found in the mid-to-late first round by the Atlanta Falcons.

    I don’t think that goes after either a tight end or a defensive end in the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft for a few reasons. Going after a tight end in the first round is a similar gamble to taking a running back in round one. Many of the league’s best tight ends weren’t first round picks, so Atlanta can find value at that position in the middle rounds. Plus, Jacob Tamme doesn’t need immediate replacement, as the league isn’t all that great at tight ends in 2015.

    Going defensive end again doesn’t seem wise either in the first round. Vic Beasley hasn’t been spectacular as a rookie in 2015, but he’s getting better the more NFL snaps he takes. To me, defensive end is the most risky position to draft, as both scheme fit and motor are so hard to project for a collegiate superstar pass rusher.

    Next: Atlanta Falcons: Hester off IR, Hankerson on it

    Entering Week 13, I think that with their mid-first round pick, the Atlanta Falcons will go either strong safety or inside linebacker. I’d like to believe they’ll go safety over inside linebacker, all things equal, but if Dan Quinn and Thomas Dimitroff really like a certain linebacker, don’t think for a second that they won’t go after him. Regardless, Atlanta needs some help up the middle defensive at all levels, so going either safety or inside linebacker would rectify those concerns. Rise Up!